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A Wind of Change(A Shade of Vampire,Book 17)(8) by Bella Forrest

My mother returned with a tray of the sweet, rich pastry. Slicing a piece in half, she handed it to Lalia. Then she scooped up two pieces and handed them to Dafne and placed two pieces in a bowl for me before putting the tray back in the fridge.

“None for Jamil?” Dafne asked.

My mother shook her head. “I’m cutting down on his sugar for a while. It’s not good for him.”

I finished the last of my savory food and pushed my chair back, rubbing my stomach. I was stuffed.

“Oh, and Grandpa called,” my mother continued. “Dafne spoke to him.”

“What did he say?” I asked, leaning forward.

“He just wanted to make sure we were ready for the trip,” Dafne replied. “And he said he’s got a surprise for us when we arrive.”

My grandfather always had one surprise or another for us when we went to visit in the summer. He lived in Cairo. Dafne, Lalia and I were due to travel there this coming Sunday—without my mother. She’d had a falling out with her father a few months ago.

“He also said again how disappointed he is that we’re only going for a week this time,” Dafne continued.

“Yeah.” I breathed out. “Well, I already told him I want to work more this summer. You two could stay on longer than me. Bashira could bring you back… I’m sure Grandpa wouldn’t mind the expense.”

“You can discuss it with him when you arrive,” my mother said. She eyed Lalia and Dafne, who’d both finished dessert by now. “Okay, time for bed.”

Lalia crinkled her nose. “But it’s summer break.”

“And you’ve already stayed up an hour past your usual bedtime. Come.”

Lalia leapt up from her chair and darted into the living room, while Dafne obediently made her way to the bathroom to brush her teeth.

My mother chased after Lalia and returned to the kitchen half a minute later, carrying my sister on her back. “River, could you keep an eye on Jamil while I put this monkey to bed?”

Jamil’s head lolled slightly as he sat strapped to his chair. He’d be ready to sleep soon.

“Yeah,” I said, standing up and walking to the sink.

“When are you coming to bed, River?” Lalia called to me as my mother disappeared with her toward the bathroom.

“Soon,” I called back.

I started washing up the plates and cutlery from dinner.

Jamil grunted suddenly. I whirled around to see his shoulders beginning to tremble. Dropping the plates in the sink, I ran to the kitchen door and unhooked the helmet that hung over the back of it. I strapped it over his head and fastened it just in time before his whole body went into a seizure. If he hadn’t been strapped to the chair, he would have fallen to the floor.

After his body had stopped shaking so violently, his hands balled into fists and he reached for his head as he attempted to hit himself over and over again. Unstrapping him from the chair, I caught both of his hands gently and helped him to his feet. He continued struggling against me as he tried to punch himself. He was taller and stronger than me, but I was practiced at this by now. I guided both of his hands behind his back and held them there firmly, but gently.

“It’s okay, Jamil,” I said softly, resting my cheek against his back. “I’ve got you.”

His groaning and grunting trailed off and he stopped struggling so hard to free his hands. Once I was sure that he wasn’t going to attempt to hit himself again, I slowly let go of him. Although he was unrestrained, both hands remained exactly as I’d positioned them behind his back.

I slipped an arm around his waist and led him out of the kitchen toward the bathroom. I could hear my mother now in the second bedroom, reading a story to Dafne and Lalia. I entered the bathroom with Jamil, pulled down the toilet lid and sat him down. I removed his helmet, then picked up his toothbrush and helped him to brush his teeth. Then I assisted him in changing into his nightclothes. Once he was ready, I led him to the bedroom he shared with my mother. Although it was a small room, she had to sleep in there in case he needed assistance during the night. I guided Jamil into bed—the left of the two twin beds lined up on opposite sides of the room—and pulled up his blanket.

The seizure he’d had was the strongest I’d seen in a while. He looked exhausted by it. I held his hand until his eyelids closed and his breathing became steady. It didn’t take long, only five minutes. My mother had finished reading to my sisters by the time I came out and was finishing cleaning up the kitchen.

“Jamil’s sleeping?” she asked as I entered.

“Yes. He just had a fit.”

“Oh, dear. That’s the fifth one today.”

We were both quiet as my mom finished washing up. Then we headed into the living room and took a seat on the couch.

“So,” she started, her voice low, “how did it go with your father?”

“How could it have possibly gone? He said he was sorry. I said goodbye. He wasn’t given long.”

My mother nodded, biting her lower lip. “Was he disappointed Dafne and Lalia didn’t come?”

“Of course.”

“Did he understand why they didn’t?”

“He seemed to.”

My mother paused. “Did he ask you to visit him?”

“Yes. I told him I couldn’t promise anything.”

She leaned back on the sofa, heaving a sigh. I drew up my feet and wrapped my arms around my knees.

“Lalia seems to have accepted the situation,” my mother said. “But Dafne keeps asking me where he is. I’m not sure what to say to her anymore. I just… I don’t want to hurt her.”